Media Director of the Year: Bruce Neve
In the search for this year's Media Director of the Year, no name came up more often than Bruce Neve's. The new president of Mediaedge:cia was lauded as a highly creative and intelligent leader with an eye for nurturing relationships with suppliers and clients - as well as among his own staff.
In the search for this year’s Media Director of the Year, no name came up more often than Bruce Neve’s. The new president of Mediaedge:cia was lauded as a highly creative and intelligent leader with an eye for nurturing relationships with suppliers and clients – as well as among his own staff.
‘He still likes to be in the thick of it,’ says managing partner, connection planning Jef Combdon, whom Neve hired to lead the Molson business eight years ago. ‘He likes the planning and strategy and coming up with ideas, and it’s welcome because he contributes a lot and inspires a lot of people to be like him.’
Over his 12 years at Mediaedge, Neve has earned a reputation for bringing in new business and establishing new media partnerships. In 2002, he played programmer across the CHUM network’s channels for an entire evening to create ‘Here’s to you, Canada,’ a showcase of Canadians on the world stage and a platform to launch Molson’s first post-’Rant’ campaign (Neve brought in the business in 2000).
In 2005, he struck a deal with TSN on a ‘three-screen’ program during the World Junior Hockey Championships that stretched over television, web and mobile – a rare accomplishment at the time.
This past year he worked with Facebook to get unprecedented access to member data for his Molson Canadian and Coors Light clients.
‘He’s very smart, strategic and forward-thinking,’ confirms Lee Doyle, Mediaedge:cia CEO North America, who has worked with Neve pitching clients for the past half-dozen years. ‘Bruce has done a very good job as an evangelist for online media, for all the benefits it can bring to a client’s communications plan, [and] has done a lot to increase the importance of online activity in the marketing communications mix for all of his clients.’
A self-professed gadget-head and sci-fi fan – he is the proud owner of a Battlestar Galactica series box set – Neve is enthusiastic about emerging technologies. ‘We’ve been in a period of incredible change in the industry, driven by digital media and new consumer behaviour,’ he says. After Neve identified this opportunity for growth, he set about investing in his digital department to attract more business – a gamble that has worked thus far.
In the media business for over 20 years, Neve graduated with a degree in mathematics from the University of Waterloo. After eight years as VP media director, he left Y&R in 1995 to head up the media business at Saatchi & Saatchi. A year later he came back to GroupM to be part of the launch of Mediaedge:cia in Canada, and was groomed to take over from former president Bruce Grondin, with whom he’s had a two-decade long working relationship that earned them the nickname ‘the Bruces.’ Neve stepped into the role of president when Grondin retired in June.
Nobody in the office was surprised. ‘He was just a natural leader that everyone looked towards, and it was a given that he would be the successor,’ says Combdon. ‘He is very competitive, he’s driven to win. He plays a lot of sports, and the same thing reflects on business. But he’s not a bad sportsman; he’s also there when you lose.’
It might be too early to tell what Neve has brought to the agency as president, but Doyle says he’s been good for morale. ‘He’s very collaborative,’ he says. ‘If you’re going to change the way people operate, and if you’re dealing with bright, talented people, they need to be able to participate in setting the direction for the agency. And that’s one of Bruce’s qualities that I really admire.’